Pac-10 Football Is Better Than SEC Football: Part Four

Thomas BrownSenior Writer IJuly 3, 2008

Part Four of this series, "Pac-10 Football Is Better Than SEC Football," examines the fact that there is more (or at least equal) parity in the Pac-10 than the SEC.

Yes, that's right—top to bottom, the Pac-10 is a better football conference.  Anybody can beat anybody.

There's nothing that hurts my ears more than hearing SEC fans cry out that the Pac-10 only has a few quality teams, while in the SEC, every team competes.  To put it in the words of one of these uninformed fans, Stephen Williams, "The Pac-10 has been a top-heavy conference riding the success of USC."

This is the basis of every argument that an SEC fan makes—every conference game is huge because every team is so good.  Unfortunately for them, it is a myth.

SEC fans use the myth to claim that somehow teams play each other tougher when it's a conference game.  Alabama fan Nic Gulas says, "Four of the games that you picked out for comparison [between USC and LSU] are rivalry games for LSU.  Arkanas battles for the Golden Boot year in and year out and Auburn-LSU is quite an intense and defensive game."

Somehow, Arkansas and Auburn play LSU tougher than USC—all because it's a conference game.  As if those same teams were trying any less hard against USC.

SEC fans also use the myth in order to justify their horrific non-conference scheduling.  My main man Jordan Coleman argues, "The Pac-10 has to schedule a couple good out of conference games because the conference games are pretty weak at best compared to the SEC.  The SEC always has 5-7 teams ranked in the top 25 in conference so it all equals out."

The arguments are always the same from an SEC fan: Their conference is the greatest, so that justifies everything.  It's time to look at the facts.

If the SEC is so great top to bottom, as all SEC fans claim, why are there never big-time upsets within the conference?  The SEC picture always seems to shape up just as planned.

Let's compare Street and Smith's preseason predictions for each conference with the final standings from the 2007 football season.


CaliforniaArizona State
UCLAOregon State
Oregon StateOregon
Arizona StateArizona
WashingtonWashington State
Washington StateStanford






South CarolinaKentucky
KentuckySouth Carolina
AlabamaMississippi State
Ole MissAlabama
Mississippi StateOle Miss

As you can see, the predictions and final standings are much closer in the SEC than in the Pac-10.  The most noticeable jumps come from California and Arizona State.  In the SEC, there is essentially only a move up or down one slot in the division.

The accuracy with which experts can pick the final SEC standings just shows how predictable the conference is.  There is little possibility for major upsets within the conference.  Of course, there are a few example that you might name, such as Kentucky over LSU a few years back or Arkansas over LSU last year. 

But the fact of the matter is that the SEC will never have a second-to-last place team beating LSU.

I'm sorry, but when Florida plays Ole Miss, everyone knows they're going to win.  Due to the fact that you generally know who will beat who, the SEC is an easy conference to predict.

The simple fact that you can predict the SEC standings fairly accurately might not make the point that the SEC has minimal parity to some people.  So let's look into the facts from last year's 2007 season.

The fact of the matter is that Pac-10 teams seem to beat up on each other just as much as SEC teams do.  Below is a list of every in-conference game in which a non-ranked opponent beat a ranked opponent.

SEC (6 times)

Alabama 41, No. 21 Tennessee 17

Vanderbilt 17, No. 6 South Carolina 6

Mississippi State 31, No. 14 Kentucky 14

Tennessee 27, No. 16 South Carolina 24

Mississippi State 17, No. 22 Alabama 12

Arkansas 50, No. 1 LSU 48

Pac-10 (7 times)

Stanford 24, No. 2 USC 23

UCLA 30, No. 12 California 21

Washington State 27, No. 25 UCLA 7

Arizona 34, No. 2 Oregon 24

Washington 37, No. 24 California 23

UCLA 16, No. 9 Oregon 0

Oregon State 38, No. 17 Oregon 31

The Pac-10 and SEC have a similar number of games that were won by a non-ranked opponent over a ranked one.  So if you're an SEC fan, stop claiming that every conference game is somehow more important than a conference game in any other conference. 

The Pac-10 shows that there is just as much talent top to bottom in the league as the SEC.

The fact that SEC fans use their league's "top to bottom strength" as an excuse for playing a weak non-conference schedule is therefore unjustified, and we must take a second look at why we think the SEC is "America's Best Conference."


4. The Pac-10 has just as much, if not more, parity top to bottom than the SEC.

3. The Pac-10's best team is better than the SEC's best team.

2. The Pac-10 plays a better overall schedule.

1. The Pac-10 plays a better non-conference schedule.


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